JIUZHAIGOU VALLEY 280 miles north of Chengdu, in Nanping County.
The bus ride my tour group endured from Chengdu to the remote, mountainous Jiuzhaigou Valley, which is located on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, took nine hours.
|stop at Maoxian area on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
It seemed to take forever, with brutal restroom stops that cost 1 yuen/US16c and delivered open stalls with troughs down the center. No privacy. No flushing. Sometimes running water.
|typical trough toilet on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
We made a lunch stop in Maoxian at Tu Giang Restaurant where we enjoyed Qiang nationality items that include yak meat dishes as well as the always-popular Sichuan chicken. After, we bought tangerines from locals outside who weighed the purchase with old-time wood-pole scales.
|chicken soup in Tu Giang Restaurant on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
|wood-pole scale seen on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
At 6,000 to 9,000 feet we came to Barrel Lake, where beautiful long-hair white yaks awaited mounting for photographs. This stop also had a mini-bazaar where we saw exotic giant mushrooms and I purchased some cracked whole pecans that were deliciously spiced and made a great treat to enjoy on the bus.
|white yak at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
|mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
|unusual giant mushrooms at mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
|exotic spiced pecans at mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
The altitude in the Jiuzhaigou Valley ranges from 8,000 to 16,000 feet. Altitude sickness is a definite possibility, so it is a good idea to pack medications and remedies recommended by your doctor, and to take your time and not over exert. Oxygen canisters can be rented throughout the area, and in a god-forsaken town on our way up my group encountered oxygen water being sold by nurses in uniform for 100 yuen/US$16 per bag.
|nurse dispenses oxygen water on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
Also be aware that Sichuan Province is frequently struck by quakes. Just this year on August 9, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Zhangzha killed 19 people and injured 247. Another one in Yingxiu town in May 2008 killed almost 70,000 people. Fortunately, there were no quakes during my visit.
On this trip we were really out there.
In spite of these travel deterrents, the Chinese people come here in great numbers for the beauty and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Referred to by some as "China's Switzerland," this spectacularly scenic area is particularly beautiful in fall, when foliage is changing color (winter it is extremely cold). This is the habitat of the giant panda (although sightings are extremely rare) and the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey.
This region is also home to a small population of Tibetan and Qing people. We visited several villages, where prayer flags flew and where reasonably-priced, locally-produced goods were sold. I bought a beautiful embroidered cloth-and-beads necklace and a lovely floral “pashmina” scarf--both of which I’m sure are probably for sale on Canal Street in NYC--but so far I haven’t encountered them anywhere else. Attending one of their evening cultural performances is a must, as is sampling some of the typical local foods that you’ll see in your hotel’s buffet.
|Tibetan village in Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
|yak butter tea in Tibetan village in Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China|
Introduction to Jiuzhaigou Valley area
More Jiuzhaigou Valley Area Sights.
Things to do in nearby Chengdu.
Best souvenirs of China.
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.
images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers